Jefferson Davis in a March 7, 1864 letter to General James Longstreet at Greeneville, Tennessee wrote, “It is needless to point out to you the value of a successful movement into Tennessee and Kentucky, and the importance—I may say necessity—of our taking the initiative.”
Davis was right in his desire for his generals to seek victories against the Union armies. However, he did not fully understand at the time that the high water mark of Confederate military action was in the past rather than in the present or future.
Vicksburg and Gettysburg in July 1863 had doomed the Confederate war effort. By March 1864 the initiative would be in the hands of the Union, not the Confederacy. And soon Federal armies would once again be attacking the Confederacy.